Santa Ana sophomore runner Giovanni Barajas won the Golden West College Invitational on a hot Friday afternoon, Sept. 20. Barajas covered the 3.96-mile course in a time of 21:03, shaving off 19 seconds from his previous best two weeks ago at the Palomar Invitational.
“I felt excellent. We executed the plan today to push my limits,” Barajas said.
Barajas quickly took the lead, and by mile two in was well ahead. He created distance between himself and the field by accelerating up a steep uphill and gliding through an uneven, narrow path along a lake. While the others struggled the lanky Barajas, made it look effortless, gaping the other runners.
“We have been doing a lot of hill training, so that helped [me],” Barajas said. By the end of the third mile, Giovanni was dominating, and no other runners could stay within minutes of him, and he won going away.
Barajas’ primary focus during the race was staying calm and controlling his breath. He knew if his breathing were [not] composed, he would waste energy that needed to keep a fast, consistent pace throughout the race.
Despite his dominating performance, he said that there’s still room for improvement.
“The last mile [is where I declined]. We’re still working on being able to dog it out and push through the pain.”
Barajas now plans to move up the intensity of his training.
“We’ve been focusing on mileage. Now we’re going to transition to more power which means more speed workouts, more tempo runs, and declining the milage. Hopefully, that is going to help me with the postseason and with the last mile of the race,” Barajas said.
Dons Cross Country Head Coach Miriam Mitzel said she was proud of not only Barajas’ win, but also the team’s performance. “They executed the way that they have been training,” Mitzel said.
The Dons next run at the Cerritos College Falcon Invitational Oct. 4, at Don Knabe Regional Park at Cerritos.